Automate your money – easier said than done right? For most of us, managing our personal finances no longer consists of filing a monthly paper statement from the bank, dropping a cheque off to cover the mortgage or popping up the post office to pay the bills. So maybe it’s not that big a jump – many of us already have elements of our finances automated – maybe it’s the phone bill, maybe the electricity account.
Getting it together to automate your money is actually a really simple thing you can do to reduce your life admin – you know, all those hours you spend paying bills, filing paperwork and then cleaning out your filing cabinet of all that excessive paperwork.
01. MAKE USE OF DIRECT DEBITS
We are going to state the obvious first. Get your bills set up to simply be direct debited from your account – this way you never miss a bill (so no late fees) and often fees by paying manually – lots of businesses now charge you a monthly fee if you aren’t paying by direct debit! You can also change your bills to be received via email rather than paper and save even more money each month, again lots of businesses now charge to send paper bills. You can then review your expenses using the spend tracker mentioned below, rather than via paper each month.
Life admin win: Save money on silly fees, save time and save a tree.
02. SET UP SOME RULES IN YOUR INBOX
To reduce the bulk in your filing cabinet, you can also set up some rules in your email inbox (where you now receive your bills) so that they get automatically filed away for future reference. Whether you use Gmail or Outlook you can set these automations/tags up to file your paperwork away.
Life admin win: You can ditch the filing cabinet and store your files digitally. Just be mindful that you may need to back these files up on your computer if you need to store them for a long time.
03. SAVE YOUR SMALL CHANGE
Make saving your small change simple – lots of banks now allow you save your digital coins by switching on a feature called round ups. The way it works is every time you spend money (for example $3.50) they round up the transaction to the nearest dollar (50 cents in this example) and pop the difference into your savings account. Before you know it you’ve got a house deposit saved up or funds for your next investment property.
Life admin win: say goodbye to the coin jar on your bench and pinch your pennies digitally.
04. MAGICALLY TRACK YOUR SPENDING
A good little money management app is Pocketbook. We’ve talked about this one before but it’s a great tool to have on your phone. You can set yourself a monthly budget and track what you spend with the tap of a screen. It automatically tracks and categorises what you spend on things like food and drinks, entertainment, car, insurance and shopping. Set yourself limits and receive notifications when you’ve hit your budget for that category.
Life admin win: get your Sunday’s back by avoiding having to export your bank statements into a spreadsheet, manually categorising and colour coding your expenses.
05. AUTOMATE YOUR SAVINGS
We’re big believers in making sure you always have savings. Whether it be an emergency fund, working towards retirement or for your next family holiday you will want to have a bit of liquidity in your life.
We’d suggest setting up automated transfers from your main bank account into your savings accounts each pay so you don’t have to think about it.
Life admin win: save money without even having to think about.
06. AUTOMATE YOUR INVESTMENTS
This isn’t a new one, but investment apps like Raiz (formerly Acorns) lets you turn on round ups and invest your small change (like the round ups your bank can set up for you as mentioned above). We probably wouldn’t suggest turning on both this and the bank round ups – just pick one that will automatically deduct from your account or your round ups might get out of control and you end up with no spending money!
Life admin win: invest your small change and dip your toes in the investing waters.
And just like that you’ve saved yourself hours of time, probably money and most definitely trees with just a few simple automations.
Got a financial life hack? We’d love to hear it – email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.